Smoking Cigarettes Alters Bacteria in Mouth

April has been named Oral Cancer Awareness Month. As the #1 cause of preventable disease and mortality in the United States accounting for approximately 480,000 deaths per year, Dr. Heather Fleschler wants you to know that cancer caused by cigarette smoking is an epidemic deserving of your attention.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 40 million Americans smoke. In addition, the Oral Cancer Foundation has indicated approximately 48,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer this year, with 1 death every hour due to complications with cancer. These statistics are alarming and strengthen the need for smoking awareness.

Oral cancer caused by cigarette smoking starts at a smaller level: bacteria in your mouth. Good bacteria is necessary to break down foods and remove toxins. In cigarette smoker’s mouths, however, studies conducted by the National Institute of Health and American Cancer Society found that the bad oral microbiome (bacteria) was higher than non-smokers. The study also found that the bacteria, Streptococcus, known to cause tooth decay, had 10% more types in the mouths of smokers than non-smokers.

There are some warning signs for oral cancer. Be aware if you find:

  • Sores that bleed easily or do not heal
  • Tissues of your mouth changing color
  • An area that is lumpy, thickened, rough, or a small eroded area
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness in the mouth or lips

The best way to increase your likelihood of a full recovery from oral cancer is to catch the condition in its earliest stages. That’s why Dr. Fleschler offers oral cancer screenings as part of her regular dental checkups. If you are a smoker, it’s even more important that you undergo oral cancer screenings on a regular basis.

Please contact Dr. Heather Fleschler using the form on this page or call (713) 660-6500 today to schedule your oral cancer screening. We serve patients in the Houston, Texas areas of West University, Meyerland, Bellaire and River Oaks.

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